Industry leaders call for common standards on carbon data

Leaders in travel and tourism sustainability called for standardisation of carbon emissions measurement and reporting across the industry at the A World for Travel forum in Nîmes.

Lucas Bobes, Amadeus group environmental officer, told the forum: “Travellers can get very different carbon calculations [for flights]. We have to agree a standard of certification for the industry.”

Randy Durband, chief executive of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), argued: “There are very different businesses so we need different approaches, but we need common standards. We’re all interested in measurement. We need to start with carbon, agree a standard, then move on.”

He pointed out: “Only some 30,000 hotels are using sustainability measures now. We need every hotel using them. We’ve spent years developing a certification system [at the GSTC]. Now we’re moving to targets [for certification] because the technology is there.”

European Travel Commission head of public affairs Teodora Marinska told the forum: “Carbon offsetting didn’t really take off because we have way too many options to offset in the market for someone who is not an expert. There is a lack of consumer trust. More transparency would help.”

She suggested: “We could design a standard for consumers to compare and channel offsetting funds to new technologies, to fund carbon capture and to make sustainable fuels.”

Hilary Matson, founder of US sustainable travel booking platform Yugen Earthside, agreed: “There is confusion about carbon offset schemes. Planting a tree is not very effective. It’s hard to educate travellers and we can’t rely on leisure travellers to solve this problem.”

Matson argued: “The problem isn’t going to be solved by individuals. Regulation would be more effective and collaboration between large companies, especially airlines, and governments.

“Governments could require sustainable aviation fuel be used, flights be offset [and] companies move to net zero.”

Kit Brennan, founder and director of Thrust Carbon, which offers carbon calculators and offsetting, warned: “Regulations will become stricter as the climate crisis gets worse. Companies will need to get to net zero. The question is how.”

However, he said: “Calculating carbon for a flight need not be difficult. All you need is the fuel burn. But airlines don’t share their fuel burn on all routes. Government regulation is needed.”

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